Japanese television can get extreme: people doing crazy stunts, people getting hurt. According to a recent published report, one network went too far.
In 2003, late night Japanese variety show Taikutsu Kizoku: Un Noble Ennuyeux had an old Japanese man walk on fire, calling him "The Rambo of the Orient". Fuji TV, one of the country's biggest networks, broadcast the show. The show apparently had the man walk on fire to show off his mind-over-matter inner-strength. The flames reached his waist, and the man walk through the fire barefoot with his legs exposed.
According to Japanese tabloid Shukan Bunshun, the man was initially supposed to walk on burning cardboard—however, Fuji TV apparently brought 3 liters of kerosene. The man, who reportedly suffered from Alzheimer's, was supposedly made to walk through the fire twice. The stunt results in severe burns, and the man dying only a few years later. He was apparently paid only a couple hundred bucks for the stunt. The finger is being pointed squarely at Fuji TV—as if it burned the man.
That being said, the man appeared to dump the kerosene and light it himself. Then he walked through the flames. It was an idiotic thing to do on his part, and it was irresponsible of Fuji to film it and then broadcast it. He might have needed the money, but Fuji did not need to let him do this to himself for entertainment purposes.
Stories of a Fuji TV cover-up and the police turning a blind eye are now circulating online. Japanese netizens are spreading the story around the internet in hopes of bringing attention to what Shukan Bunshun reported with English language sites and videos in hopes of reaching an international audience.
According to website Japan Probe, the reason why this is making waves now in Japan—years after it happened—is that Fuji TV ran stories depicting 2ch as a drug dealing site. Thus, many people online in Japan appear to be going to war with the network.
Shukan Bunshun isn't exactly The New York Times. It's a tabloid and has been sued in the past for slander. The publication pitches itself as an outlet that runs news the mainstream media is afraid to touch—not necessarily a bad thing in Japan.
FujiTV has apparently yet to give its side of the story. Kotaku reached out to the network and will update this post should it comment.